Cocoa Farmer will Teach Neighboring Cocoa Farmers
Entry: Bill Guyton
Last week, I traveled to the small town of Ngoumou, Cameroon with a group of World Cocoa Foundation members and partners. We had the opportunity to meet with cocoa farmers currently participating in a Farmer Field School and farmers who are Farmer Field School graduates training to become facilitators.
Mrs. Caroline Mongue (pictured above) is one of several cocoa farmers who spoke with us at length. Mrs. Mongue joins approximately 30 dedicated cocoa farmers and Ministry of Agriculture staff from the area training to become Farmer Field School facilitators under the Sustainable Tree Crops Program. Mrs. Mongue and her colleagues participate in several 14 day sessions of intensive training over a nine month period coinciding with the crop cycle. During the sessions, facilitators receive advanced training in technical topics such as cultivation practices and farm safety, and learn group dynamics and how to lead the group in hands-on activities. Mrs. Mongue will complete her training and receive her certificate this summer.
A Farmer Field School graduate herself, Mrs. Mongue is enthusiastic about the opportunity to share her knowledge with other farmers in the community and looks forward to the day when she will facilitate a group of 30 to 40 farmers in their first Farmer Field School session. Despite many challenges facing farmers – such as poor road conditions and little access to improved planting materials - she notes that local Farmer Field School graduates have experienced a 25% increase in yields which directly benefit farmers’ income. Other benefits are better cultivation methods, less pesticide use and improved farm safety practices.
I would like to thank Mr. Jonas Mva Mva, Cameroon country manager and Dr. Stephan Weise, regional manager of the Sustainable Tree Crops Program along with their colleagues at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture for organizing this visit.
The Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) is implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria. STCP provides farmer training through the interactive Farmer Field School methodology. Trained facilitators, such as Mrs. Mongue, guide the discussions and hands-on activities with farmers providing input on the topics to be covered. STCP is one of several programs supported by the World Cocoa Foundation in West Africa.
Best Wishes from Cameroon, Bill